Gambhir, Harbhajan & Sreesanth in the worst Test XI of 2011

Gautam Gambhir (left), Harbhajan Singh (centre) and S Sreesanth © Getty Images


By David Green

Four Indians – Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh and Shantakumaran Sreesanth find a place in the Worst Test XI of 2011.


The XI:

1. Phil Hughes (404 runs at 26.93):

Despite a hundred against Sri Lanka and an attractive 80 odd in Johannesburg, 2011 was a horrendous year for Australia’s erstwhile Test opener. His year went from bad to worse with the four successive “c Martin Guptill b Chris Martin” dismissals in the series against New Zealand likely to prove his international cricket epitaph. Some get sent to Switzerland when their condition is terminal, Hughes has been sent to Worcestershire instead to convalesce.


2. Gautam Gambhir (470 runs at 31.33):

We could just as easily have picked Virender Sehwag who actually had a lower average than his opening partner in 2011 and only had a top Test score of 67, but that seemed to border on the sacrilegious, so Gambhir it is. No Test hundreds and a year sprinkled with injury, injudicious shots, a growing tentativeness outside off-stump and a lack of weddings to attend. The ghastliness of his year was summed up when he suffered concussion when failing to catch Kevin Pietersen. In truth, Gambhir looked concussed most times he came to the crease in Tests in 2011.


3. Ramnaresh Sarwan (83 runs at 10.37):

A traumatic year for the experienced Sarwan with a top score of 23 and just 83 runs from his eight visits to the crease preceding his inevitable axing. With tyros such as Darren Bravo and Kirk Edwards shining it seems unlikely that the cultured Sarwan will be sighted in the maroon West Indian cap again.


4. Mahela Jayawardene (517 runs at 24.61):

It may have been the year of his 10,000th Test run and a sparkling century in the World Cup final, but in terms of Test cricket it was an annus horribilis for the silky-smooth Jayawardene with just one hundred in ten Tests mirroring his country’s slide down the rankings. Have the eyes gone?
5. Jesse Ryder (97 runs at 12.12):

Three ducks and just 97 runs in eight innings meant that 2011 was a year when the larger-than-life Kiwi ate more pies, sunk more tinnies and wore more inches around his generous waist than he scored Test runs.

6. Suresh Raina (337 runs at 25.92):

Rarely has an international cricketer looked more uncomfortable against the short ball than Raina did in England last summer. So much so that by the end of the series, England barely bothered celebrating his inevitably quick demise each time he strode to the wicket.
7. Brad Haddin (335 runs at 20.93):

A year in which the iron-gloved keeper was for once better behind the stumps than he was in front of them – not that there was any discernible improvement in his shoddy keeping. With the bat there were several reckless and irresponsible dismissals none more so than in the ignominious second innings collapses in Cape Town and Hobart. A nation prays that Tim Paine’s hands make the swiftest of recoveries.
8. Harbhajan Singh (20 wickets at 38.05):

He may have been part of the World Cup-winning side, but 2011 saw his decline as a Test match bowler accelerate until injury and the emergence of Ravichandran Ashwin consigned him to the sidelines. Having his car robbed in December just about summed up a dismal year for the supposed “Turbanator”.
9. Mitchell Johnson (13 wickets at 56.61):

Johnson is not a figure of ridicule for nothing – just look at that bowling average, which is even worse when his strike rate in 2011 of a wicket every 92 deliveries is taken into account. Outbowled by an 18-year old debutant with just a handful of first-class appearances in Johannesburg, injury and the emergence of James Pattinson, the aforementioned Patrick Cummins and a rejuvenated Ben Hilfenhaus means that Johnson should have plenty of time to rest that injured foot.
10. S Sreesanth (13 wickets at 52.76):

Speaking of figures of ridicule, Sreesanth was the least impressive of an impotent Indian bowling line-up in England over the summer. Doesn’t take many wickets, leaks runs at over four runs an over and seems to have lost any semblance of pace. Likely to join his best pal Harbhajan on the sidelines for some time – perhaps forever.


11. Kemar Roach (seven wickets at 55.14):

If you thought Johnson’s strike rate of 92 was bad try Roach’s performance of a wicket every 99 deliveries in 2011. Whilst there’s no doubting his talent, the suggestions of some that he should replace captain Darren Sammy in the West Indian Test XI seem at best misplaced and at worst downright foolish.


Finally, a special mention to our 12th man, RP Singh, who was called up from the beach to replace the injured Zaheer Khan in England and subsequently looked a shadow (albeit twice the size and half the speed) of the bowler who performed so well four years earlier when he played in the final match of the series at The Oval and took none for 134.


(David Green is the brain behind the irreverent The Reverse Sweep blog and also writes for a number of cricket publications and sites such as World Cricket Watch. You can follow him on Twitter also@TheReverseSweep. David was a decent schoolboy and club cricketer (and scored his maiden 100 the same week that Sachin Tendulkar scored his first Test ton) but not good enough to fulfill his childhood dream of emulating Douglas Jardine by winning the Ashes in Australia and annoying the locals into the bargain. He now lives with his wife and two young children in the South of France and will one day write the definitive biography of Hedley Verity)